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Baltimore home sellers see low return on investment, Zillow finds

Baltimore homeowners who sold their property last year didn’t get much of a return on their investment — just $5,000 more than they paid, according to a new report from Zillow.

The return on investment for a home sold in Baltimore in 2016 was 5.4 percent — the lowest among 33 cities studied by Zillow, a real estate database company.

Sellers last year in some West Coast cities saw percentage gains more than 10 times higher than in Baltimore, as high growth in technology jobs continues to drive up their home values, sales and the general cost of living.

Oakland, Calif., topped the list with a 78 percent gain, followed by Portland, Ore., at 64.7 percent and San Jose, Calif., at 56.5 percent. The highest East Coast cities were No. 8 Philadelphia at 51.7 percent and No. 10 Boston at 49.6 percent.

But in Baltimore, a slower recovery in the housing market resulted in lower return on investment, said Aaron Terrazas, a senior economist with Zillow.

“The general state of the housing market, it has not recovered to the same degree as other housing markets have,” he said.

Some don’t necessarily see that as bad news.

“All of this slow steady growth is very positive to me because it’s sustainable,” said Annie Milli, executive director of Live Baltimore, which promotes home ownership in the city. “We’re growing at a rate that our residents can really come along.”

The average home sale price in Baltimore last year was $167,473, up 8.42 percent from the year before, according to MarketStats by ShowingTime, which tracks residential home sales in the area.

Baltimore home sellers also sold their homes more quickly than in some markets that saw more appreciation — just short of three and a half years before selling, according to Zillow.

That could be a reflection of more young and first-time homebuyers, as well as investment properties being bought, renovated and put back on the market in short period of time, Terrazas said.

Meanwhile, in the West Coast cities that topped Zillow’s list, he said, owners stayed in their homes between seven and nine years before selling, which could be a sign of more mature buyers who are purchasing homes they plan to stay in for a long time.

sarah.gantz@baltsun.com

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